Directed by Timothy Bennett
420 Kent Street, Sydney
Season: 17 October – 14 November
Chekhov’s works are often a goldmine of philosophical musings and the questioning of life in its present condition. Three Sisters is no exception, chronicling the longing of sisters Olga, Macha and Irina to move to Moscow, pursuing a life to match their cultivation. Genesian Theatre undertakes this production, detailing the insipid characteristics of life which can overwhelm and snatch away one’s elevated hopes and dreams.
A key element of the longing of the main characters is a desire for passionate romantic relationships, or an escape from the dull marriages that ensnare them. The audience is met with an interesting relationship between Masha, played by Lana Kershaw, and Kulygin, played by Ted Crosby. The tragedy of a diminishing love over time is touching, and the actors engage well with its inherent complexities. This is heightened by Masha’s loving affair with Vershinin, played by Martin Bell, displaying a strong relationship, which serves to raise the stakes in the situation. As the play progresses to its climax, many of the characters in Chekhov’s play reach a pinnacle in their lives, a breaking point. However, in this production it felt as if there was not sufficient tension developed to communicate the severity of the characters’ respective circumstances. This could have been aided by a more rigorous exploration of subtext in the play. The concept of the set design by Owen Gimblett was deft in representing movements in time and place throughout the play. Unfortunately, the frame separating the indoor and outdoor spaces was intrusive at times, proving to be a barrier between actors and audience, which detracted from the overall effect.
Chekhov’s Three Sisters proves to remain relevant in its discussion of longing and contentment, and how work and relationships interplay with these notions. The piece provides layers of meaty subtext for artists to sink their teeth into, as a reminder that not all is what it seems. To present Chekhov’s pertinent ideas on the stage, we must push past the surface to uncover a surging undercurrent of internal feeling, knowing that sometimes what is left unsaid is the most telling.